William Bertrand Busnach

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William Busnach, c. 1875 WilliamBusnach.JPEG
William Busnach, c. 1875
Busnach's grave at Pere Lachaise Cemetery Pere-Lachaise - Division 7 - Busnach 01.jpg
Busnach's grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery

William Bertrand Busnach (7 March 1832, Paris – 20 January 1907, Paris) [1] was a French dramatist. [2]

Busnach was a nephew of the composer Fromental Halévy. His father was associated with David Ben Joseph Coen Bakri, to whom France was indebted to the amount of some twenty-odd million francs for provisions furnished to Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt. The lawsuit lasted for more than fifty years, and Busnach and his partner were not paid in full at the end. The elder Busnach, an Algerian Jew, became a naturalised Italian in the time of the Deys, and was the first interpreter of the French army. He established himself in Paris in 1835.

Fromental Halévy French composer

Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy, usually known as Fromental Halévy, was a French composer. He is known today largely for his opera La Juive.

Dey title given to the rulers of the Regency of Algiers (Algeria), Tripoli, and Tunis under the Ottoman Empire

Dey, likely a local mispronunciation of the common Ottoman honorific title, bey, "lord", was the title given to the rulers of the Regency of Algiers (Algeria), Tripoli, and Tunis under the Ottoman Empire from 1671 onwards. Twenty-nine deys held office from the establishment of the deylicate in Algeria until the French conquest in 1830.

William – an Italian Jew born in France of an Algerian father, with a German (European way of writing the Arabic name Boujnah is a more logic explanation) surname and an English given name – was at first employed in the customs department. He subsequently devoted himself to dramatic work, writing many plays, [3] a number of which have been successful. They include: Les Virtuoses du Pavé, 1864; Première Fraîcheur, Paris-Revue, 1869; Héloïse et Abélard, with music by Henry Litolff, 1872; Forte en Gueule, La Liqueur d'Or, in collaboration with Armand Liorat, music by Laurent de Rillé 1873; Kosiki , with Liorat, music by Alexandre Charles Lecocq, 1876 and with Albert Vanloo Ali-Baba , 1887.

Henry Litolff Piano virtuoso, composer and music publisher

Henry Charles Litolff was a piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music, and music publisher. A prolific composer, he is today known mainly for a single brief work – the scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor – and remembered as the founder of the Collection Litolff, a highly regarded publishing imprint of classical music scores.

Armand Liorat was the pen name of Georges Degas, a French playwright and librettist.

François Anatole Laurent de Rillé French composer

François Anatole Laurent de Rillé, was a French composer, writer and musical theorist.

In 1867 Busnach assumed the direction of the Théâtre de l'Athénée, where several of his operettas ( Fleur-de-Thé , etc.) were performed. His greatest successes he achieved, however, with his adaptation of celebrated novels for the stage; for example, L'Assommoir , 1881; Nana , 1882; Pot-Bouille, 1883, all by Émile Zola; Le Petit Jacques, by Jules Claretie, 1885; La Marchande des Quatre Saisons, etc. [4]

Théâtre de lAthénée (rue Scribe)

Théâtre de l'Athénée or Salle de l'Athénée was the name of a theatre in the basement of a building built in 1865 by the banker Bischoffsheim at 17 rue Scribe in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. The Athénée was initially small, with a capacity of 760 spectators, but was enlarged to 900 places by the addition of a top gallery in 1867. The interior was decorated by Charles Cambon. The venue was used by a variety of companies, including the Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes (1869), the Théâtre Lyrique (1871–1872), the Théâtre Scribe (1874–1875), and the Athénée-Comique (1876–1883). It closed permanently in 1883.

<i>Fleur-de-Thé</i> operetta

Fleur-de-Thé (Teaflower) is a three-act opéra bouffe with music by Charles Lecocq and words by Alfred Duru and Henri Chivot. The story centres on a French bar-keeper, who is saved from a bigamous marriage to an aristocratic young local by the intervention of his real wife, with the aid of champagne and French sailors. It is set in China to appeal to the 1860s French fashion for Chinoiserie.

<i>LAssommoir</i> novel by Émile Zola

L'Assommoir[lasɔmwaʁ] (1877) is the seventh novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel—a study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and helped establish Zola's fame and reputation throughout France and the world.

Busnach is also the author of the following novels: La Fille de M. Lecoq, 1886; Le Petit Gosse, 1889; Cyprienne Guérard, 1895, etc.

A chapter of Vanloo's memoirs Sur le plateau, Souvenirs d'un librettiste is about Busnach, where Vanloo described his colleague as a jovial, lively man, on close terms with all Paris, and who took delight in using strong language. [5]

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "William Bertrand Busnach". Jewish Encyclopedia . New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.

Isidore Singer American encyclopediast

Isidore Singer was an editor of The Jewish Encyclopedia and founder of the American League for the Rights of Man.


  1. The Times, Monday, 21 January 1907; pg. 9; Issue 38235; col F Obituaries
  2. Lermina, Dictionnaire Biographique Illustré; La Grande Encyclopédie
  3. Marlo Johnston, Madame Thomassin: pièce inédite, pages 59–87
  4. List of works at the Rodrigues-Henriques family site
  5. Quoted in the Opéra-Comique Dossier Pédagogique: ALI-BABA (Anne Le Nabour (2013)

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